What is it about?

From a position of confusion about why this particular text would be adapted into a live, arena-scale show, this article explores the lineage of the Ben-Hur story through literature, cinema and live performance, whilst also asking 'What is an Arena Spectacular?' and 'Why do audiences in the 21st Century want to see films turned into Live adaptations?'

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Why is it important?

Despite being a small genre, the spectacular live arena show has been around for most of this century and is apparently here to stay. I argue that by analysing the attractions of this show, we can learn something about our contemporary societies and cities.


I am a visual artist making video and performance and went to see this arena show in 2009 simply out of curiosity. I have been thinking about it ever since, using film theory and work on regeneration rather than theatre or performance studies.

Richard Whitby
University of Greenwich

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This page is a summary of: Ben Hur Live as post-cinematic adaptation, Journal of Adaptation in Film & Performance, March 2022, Intellect, DOI: 10.1386/jafp_00069_1.
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